AAEP: An Abbreviated History

The Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy shares its early history with the university's other visual arts programs and the courses offered in freehand drawing, lettering, and botanical drawing since the late 1880s. In the 1920s, the university became the first of the state universities to offer graduate programs for the creative artist, art historian, and specialist in art education. In 1944, this department became the School of Fine and Applied Arts, renamed the School of Art in 1962, and in 1968, the School of Art was disbanded and reorganized as four divisions within the College of the Arts: Art, Art Education (with Manuel Barkan as chair), History of Art, and Industrial Design. It was under Barkan’s leadership that art education at Ohio State rose to national prominence.

History by Era

The Division of Art Education became an independent academic unit in 1971 as the Department of Art Education in 1971, with Dr. Kenneth Marantz as chairperson. By the end of his chairmanship in 1987, the department grew to twenty faculty and several adjunct positions. Marantz recognized the legacy of art educators, and the prominence of Ohio State’s faculty in the field, so much so that in 1984, graduate students voted to direct yearly funds towards inviting one of the departments many distinguished alumni to speak. This lecture series was designated the “Kenneth A. Marantz Distinguished Alumni Award” in honor of the role that Marantz played in shaping this cadre of leaders. As the department advanced as an independent academic unit, it maintained its roots in artmaking as well as teacher preparation.

In 1977, the Department of Art Education instituted a new undergraduate curriculum, with a humanistic and liberal arts orientation, in which students could pursue art education studies without necessarily aiming toward art teacher certification. Expanding art education beyond teacher preparation, the department began to increase its course offerings and develop alternative areas of study including Computer Graphics/Animation, Jewelry/Metalsmithing, The Logan Elm Press, and Arts Administration/Community Arts Services. Many of these programs are still in existence including the Advanced Computing Center for the Arts and Design (ACCAD), which grew out the computer graphics area.

An external review committee emphasized in their 1985 report that Ohio State’s Department of Art Education was “the outstanding department of its kind in the United States” and found that “strong leadership and initiative” characterized the Department’s “vital and dynamic program,” as do “a high level of scholarship and significant contributions to the state and to the field, including international art education.”

In 1988, the department received a grant from the Getty Foundation to conduct curriculum development and research activities with teachers across Ohio through The Ohio Partnership for the Visual Arts (OPVA). It was the beginning of a fifteen-year movement supported by private funds that implemented Discipline-Based Art Education (DBAE), revitalizing the work of Manuel Barkan. Administrators and educators from Ohio State, the Wexner Center and the Columbus Museum of Art presented the program, and was one of six institutes nationwide sponsored by the Getty.

Michael Parsons became chairperson in 1988 (until 1994). Under Parsons, the department identified initiatives including securing a more central place of the visual arts in general education, improving programs for educating art educators and administrators for schools and other public agencies, developing a museum education program to capitalize on the opportunities afforded by the opening of the Wexner Center for the Visual Arts in 1989, and creating a more focused and cooperative approach to research in art education, relating research programs more closely with instructional programs. Driving motivations included maintaining and fostering leadership in art education as well as transferring alternative areas of study to more appropriate departmental homes.

James Hutchens became chair in 1995 (until 2002) and under his leadership, the Department of Art Education formalized its Arts Policy and Administration program. In addition, the Department was ranked as the leading art education program in the United States and Canada.

A graduate program in Arts Policy and Administration was first initiated in 1984 but not realized for ten more years. Courses in arts administration have been offered since the mid-1980s and the department maintained a core group of graduate students who took additional coursework in College of Administrative Services, School of Business Administration, School of Public Administration, and Department of Communications.

In 1993, two endowed funds were established by Lawrence R. Barnett and Isabel Bigley Barnett to support the Arts Policy and Administration Program. One aspect of this endowment was the development of the biennial Barnett Symposium, which was created to facilitate in-depth inquiry and analysis of public and not-for-profit sector policies and practices. Harold Williams, the president of the J. Paul Getty Trust, presented a lecture at the inaugural symposium in May 1993. In his talk, Williams described the evolution and complex nature of the federal, state, and local arts support network and its significance for arts education policy formulation. Williams emphasized the interrelatedness of the arts and arts education as well as the close linkage of arts education policy formulation to the overall reform of public education.

Williams’ talk was the impetus for partnering with the School of Public Policy and Management in the Fisher College of Business, what is now the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, to develop the Master of Arts in Arts Policy and Administration. This partnership was a significant shift in arts administration; existing programs stressed the importance of business theory and practice while the Master of Arts in Arts Policy and Administration emphasized the development of the concepts, skills, and attitudes required to administer public arts and arts service organizations in a culturally diverse and changing arts world, with the major goal to prepare students to deal not only with managerial decision-making but also with policy challenges in the arts. The program offered core classes in both Art Education and Public Policy and Management. The Master of Arts in Arts Policy and Administration was proposed in August 1994, approved by the Board of Trustees in 1995, and the Ohio Board of Regents approved the program in 1996.

In 1989, the first undergraduate course focused on visual culture, multicultural art education, and social justice began and was offered university-wide as a General Education Course. With this course, and others, began a curricular shift towards multicultural art education, interdisciplinary approaches, and a focus on the role of culture, identity, and social justice in understanding art and the diverse audiences served by art education. In addition, the development of programs throughout the 1980s and 1990s came to fruition in the early 2000s. Though officially approved much earlier, programs crystallized as faculty were hired and courses added to the books.

The emphasis on interdisciplinary approaches was also seen in the Transforming Education Through the Arts Challenge (TETAC), which ran from 1998 to 2003. TETAC grew out the DBAE program and was launched in 1996 as a joint effort of the Annenberg Foundation, which focuses on school reform, and the J. Paul Getty Trust's Getty Education Institute for the Arts to look at how arts could be infused into the core curriculum of the nation's schools. Six regional organizations formed the National Arts Education Consortium and became part of TETAC, and worked with five or six schools in its region to develop and test a Comprehensive Arts Education (CAE) program. In the Ohio TETAC program, “We wanted to promote inquiry-based learning that engaged students with meaningful issues…we wanted a curriculum structured around important ideas, one that called for the construction of knowledge across subject areas. And…we wanted the arts to figure prominently in the integration of this curriculum.”

Patricia Stuhr became chair of the department in 2002 (until 2011). During her tenure at Ohio State (which began in 1987), she focused on developing a culture of mentorship in the department, international leadership, and creating closer relationships with local, regional, and state arts organizations. Stuhr also worked to develop curriculum appropriate for disenfranchised groups including courses concerning disability studies and LGBTQ+ issues. The Department of Art Education hosted summer one week intensive graduate courses, which brought in visiting faculty from around the country and world, including Deborah Smith-Shank, who came to Ohio State in 2011 as a professor and later chairperson.

In 2002, the Department of Art Education launched the first online art education offering in the United States with it’s Mostly Online Master of Arts in Art Education. It started as a mostly online master's (2002-2013) and relaunched as a totally online program in 2016. The program has served art(s) educators teaching in a variety of settings, including public and private schools, community arts centers, museums, residential facilities, and colleges and universities. Within the context of the Online Master’s, the Department of Art Education developed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Edna Manley College of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica and enrolled its first Jamaican cohort in 2008, who graduated in 2010.

Although the idea first appeared in 1988 with the opening of the Wexner Center, the Museum Education and Administration Specialization was developed in the early 2000s. The department looked for opportunities to build relationships between arts intuitions and people with the department, and the success of these partnerships led to expanding the Museum Education program in 2017 with the hire of a new Museum Education faculty.

In 2008, the College of the Arts merged with the College of the Humanities to form the Division of Arts and Humanities within the newly reorganized College of Arts and Sciences. In 2010, the Department of Art Education moved from its home in Hopkins Hall to the Ohio Stadium for a four-year interim period during the renovation of Sullivant Hall. Stuhr initiated the move from Hopkins Hall into Sullivant Hall, in conjunction with the College of the Arts through generous funding from the Barnetts. This move enabled the department to work more collaboratively and in a more integrated fashion across disciplines.

Stuhr, along with the Art Education faculty, crafted a mission and program descriptions in 2010, which brought to the forefront visual culture and “a curriculum that is research-based, interdisciplinary, and intent on collaboration with communities both within and outside the University, state, nation, and world….[and including] multimedia technologies in cultural production, critique of policies, teaching, learning, assessment, and awareness of comparative international practice.” This mission goes on to establish the department’s pursuit of “excellence in research, policy, teaching, and leadership that fosters social change and advances the public interest through the arts and visual culture…to prepare educators, researchers, administrators and policy makers for research and practice in the interdisciplinary field of art education through its integrated, multifaceted programs and collaborations within and outside the University. Key goals are to prepare students to lead through the arts, to function as a critical and informed citizenry, to advance the public interest with regard to opportunity, diversity, effective public policy, social justice, and creativity. Through these endeavors, the Department maintains its position of excellence at the local, state, national and international levels in the areas of research, teaching and service.”

The Department of Art Education offered undergraduate general education and courses for elementary classroom teachers; a Bachelor of Art Education degree program that provides undergraduate students with a well-rounded liberal arts education, intensive studies in visual culture, and significant preparatory course work in the theory and practice of art education; and an undergraduate minor in entrepreneurship and the arts in collaboration with the Fisher College of Business. On the graduate level, courses for experienced teachers and graduate licensure students were offered in addition to a Master of Arts in Arts Policy and Administration degree program carried out in collaboration with the John Glenn College of Public Affairs, a museum education specialization, professional development for in-service teachers and school administrators, and a wide array of doctoral research specializations.

With the reorganization of the colleges in 2008 came a change in university budget structure. By the time Smith-Shank became acting chair in 2011, the Art Education budget shrank and her priorities included “keeping us fiscally alive” and changing the department name. “The faculty had been discussing the name change of the department, so we worked on …changing our fingerprint in the world. Shifting from straight art education to something broader, which we had been moving towards for some time. When we switched from quarters to semesters, it made us take a look at ourselves and our curriculum and realize that we were doing a lot more arts administration and arts policy than we had been doing in the past. A lot of departments were changing their names to something like visual culture, but we really are unique because we have the arts administration policy connected to art education. One of the main reasons [was that] we wanted to more accurately reflect what art education does. I wanted education right in the middle of it because art education is really at the center of what we do.”

Smith-Shank continued partnerships that began under Stuhr’s leadership, such as University of the Arctic, which facilitated Ohio State’s relationship with Alto University in Helsinki, Finland. There has been a direct exchange of graduate students, as well as study abroad trips. Other faculty developed relationships with institutions in Jamaica, Brazil, and South Africa. In addition, Smith-Shank initiated participation in the Graduate Research in Art Education (GRAE) conference in 2012, which is a forum for graduate students from Penn State, Ohio State, Syracuse Universities and Teachers College.

While enrollment in art education programs shrank, arts policy and administration was on the rise. A Bachelor of Arts in Arts Management (BAAM) began in 2012 and The Barnett Center of Integrated Arts and Enterprise was established in 2012 (opened January 2014), by a generous donation from the Barnetts. The mission of the Center is to educate and prepare students for successful careers in the arts and related entrepreneurial fields through advancing and increasing an understanding of the business side of the arts and the worlds of arts management, policy, and culture.

On June 22, 2012, the Ohio State Board of Trustees approved the proposal to change the name of the Department of Art Education to the Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy. The change reflects and recognizes developments in the academic, policy and arts organizational worlds, and combines them with an enlarged sense of what it means to build knowledge and prepare future generations to teach, shape and practice the arts in the 21st century. In addition, students now earn a PhD in Arts Administration, Education and Policy with the option to specialize in Art Education or Cultural Policy and Administration.

Former department chair, Karen Hutzel (chair, 2016–2021), reflects on the possibilities opened by the name change to “better represent the breadth of the programs in the department, including arts administration and arts and cultural policy. Changing the department name provided an opportunity to really give more life to the arts administration and arts policy side of our program offerings.”

“AAEP directly addresses the issues concerning arts policy such as globalization and international cultural relations, technology, globalization and the creative trades, urban development and creative cities initiatives, the arts and heritage preservation, in addition to art education. The Department continues to focus on visual art education and educates teachers for pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade in traditional public funded schools through our accredited state licensure program. It also seeks to collaborate with other arts disciplines, acknowledging the multiple institutions and venues where the arts are taught, experienced, and learned in settings ranging from community centers to hospitals and museums to prisons. We do not believe that art can be understood without also understanding the social and economic context in which it is conceptualized, created, critiqued, organized, maintained, disseminated, and for which advocacy is essential.

The department moved into its current home in Sullivant Hall in 2014, which also houses ACCAD, The Barnett Center for Integrated Arts and Enterprise, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library, AAEP, and the Department of Dance. Sullivant Hall is “the cornerstone for the arts district …[on] the corner of 15th and High.”

From its inception, the Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy has been an innovative leader in the field of art education and now the fields of arts administration and arts policy. The curricular and programmatic shifts from artmaking and teacher preparation to social justice and visual culture and finally to the arts in society are not simply a reflection of cultural changes; the department leadership, faculty research, and alumni also contributed to these shifts. This spiral of influence is seen in the development of the arts policy and administration program, computer graphics, the DBAE and TETAC movements, and more. It is a response to society, but also a mark of innovation. The department, time and again, is at the forefront of cultural production and cutting edge research in the field of art education. Program and curricular changes have been responsive to the needs of contemporary culture and the art educators working in it. “[Our] focus has always broad based, and it started with Barkan. He was expanding his horizons then” and the department continues to expand the horizons of art education. Today, AAEP offers five degree programs: Bachelor of Art Education, Bachelor of Arts in Arts Management, Master of Arts in Art Education and Arts Policy and Administration, and Doctor of Philosophy in Arts Administration, Education and Policy. AAEP’s programs promote understanding of the arts and visual culture for students through a curriculum that is research-based, interdisciplinary and intent on collaboration with communities across the university, state, nation and world. AAEP emphasizes understanding of arts and culture, especially visual culture, in a global, culturally diverse and technological society.

The graduate program is generally acknowledged to be among the best nationally, and its scope the most comprehensive in the world. With 12 full time faculty, one part-time faculty and over 100 graduate students in various programs of study, it is also one of the largest existing graduate programs in Art Education and Arts Administration. Faculty, students, and alumni across the world continue to teach in a variety of settings, inform arts education policy and arts policy through participation on boards and policy development; involvement with state, regional, national, and international organizations in leadership positions; and the publication of research.

“The department is probably the most interdisciplinary and innovative department in its fields. It has all these different alliances with differing interdisciplinary fields and its integration of arts policy, administration and education. We have the assemblages of pieces that could really give us a unique and valuable profile for the field…I’ve always thought we’re uniquely positioned to take on art education policy the way nobody else in the country is.”

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